By Charles W. Short
Man after man stood and spoke about addictions and failures. They spoke of drugs, alcohol, pornography and video games that were robbing them of their lives and their purposes in Jesus Christ. Then they committed aloud that they were going to move away from these past enslavements to victory, by means of accountability with other men.
This scene took place on Sunday, May 5 at the closing session of MMR2019 (Metamorphosis Men’s Retreat). This event is a men’s retreat planned for and predominantly attended by Arizona Southern Baptist churches.
As they met Friday evening through Sunday morning at Lost Canyon, a Young Life camp outside of Williams, 265 representing at least 27 churches were present. In addition, 30 servers from Set Free, Needles, assisted with food service and similar background tasks.
This year’s speaker, Rod Handley of Character That Counts Ministries, suggested the retreat’s theme, CIA, referring to character, integrity and accountability.
Handley’s messages resonated with the men. One attender said he had always thought he was a person of integrity, but now he realized integrity without accountability is a delusion. This kind of thorough accountability takes a great deal of courage, but it also reaps fantastic rewards for a person serious about spiritual growth.
The music was provided by a band from members of Cross Church coordinated by Austin Ryan of Worship Catalyst. Ryan set the hearts of the men toward worship and prepared them to hear and respond to Handley’s messages.
On Saturday afternoon, the men participated in recreation. For some this meant racing down the zip line, sand volleyball, plummeting into the arc of the giant swing, gymnasium basketball, or utilizing the pool and water slides. For other men, it meant a more relaxed pace, like spending time in the coffee shop, napping, frisbee golf or heartfelt conversations around a pool table.
Later, some of the men gathered for two optional sessions. One was led by Handley on how to begin and sustain accountability groups. Many men left this session with a new intent and resolve as they return to the men’s ministries at their church.
The accountability questions that Rod presented during that session left a mark on Arizona Southern Baptists. These questions are now being used by the church planting network as state leaders ask them of the church planter catalysts, and soon the CPCs will be using these questions to encourage and hold church planters accountable.
The other session was a conversation about the future of the men’s retreat. Following this session, the 2020 event is now being planned by a coalition of churches, empowered by the AZSBC. Many members of this group remain from the past team, while many new members are also contributing. They will keep the strengths of the event as learned over the past four years, while seeking to increase the blessings for those who attend.
Next year’s event will be May 1-3.